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ST in April '07

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ST in April '07

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Posts: 1

My husband and I, along with another couple have just made our reservations for 4/07. I am new to this board, I just love reading about everyone's experiences. We will be staying at Secret Harbour, and I hope we're not disappointed. I've read alot of good things about it, but an occasional bad review pops up. We have only been to the caribbean twice before - 17 years ago for our honeymoon in the Bahama's and 3 years ago on a cruise (Western Caribbean).

I tried snorkeling before and didn't do well. The water was choppy, my mask leaked, and I couldn't make myself breathe underwater. (its just not natural!) Anyway, I want to try again and wondered if I should just rent the equipment there, or purchase my own before we go.

I know I'm asking questions a little early, but does anyone know if Secret Harbour has blenders in their suites for mixing drinks?

Any and all comments would be greatly appreciated! I'm so excited I can't stand it, and I've got 9 more months to dream about it!

Posted : July 9, 2006 8:14 pm
Posts: 163
Estimable Member

Hi Lora, I can't comment on your hotel since we always stay on STJ and camp there but I can comment on the snorkling. As long as there hasn't been a storm the night before, you should have no trouble finding a calm place to snorkle right from the beach. We snorkle around STJ, not STT and are NEVER disappointed.
Now: rent, don't buy your gear. If you decide you truly don't care for snorkling, you have only your day/week rental to lose. Have you checked with your hotel to see if they give you equipment? Secondly, I would suggest a day snorkle tour out of STJ. Your hotel should have listings, otherwise search on this wonderful board and you'll find millions of entries on snorkling and day charters, many of which offer snorkling with instruction. We went on a day trip to the Baths last November with Limnos Charters which included snorkling around the caves on Norman's Island and some of the crew very patiently assisted new snorklers with their gear and with "technique". Buy or rent a snorkle vest so you will remain steady in the water ,even if you panic. I am a terrible swimmer and while I don't actually like my vest bought for mucho $$$, the piece of mind is priceless. With the snorkle tube piece in your mouth, practice taking exagerated breaths just standing there so you get used to breathing with the piece in your mouth then once you're in the water with your face in the water, just lie there and practice deep breathing through the mouthpiece until you get the hang of it, then you can breathe normally. Choppy water- forget it!! Not worth the trouble IMHO!! Too much splashing.
We all count down so join the club!! 4 1/2 months for us till our 5th trip to STJ!

Posted : July 10, 2006 11:26 am
Posts: 2023
Noble Member


When I first learned to snorkel, I had the same issues you have. If you can get a hold of a snorkel and mask and practice in a pool at home, you will be ahead of the game. Many people come down, grab a rental mask and expect perfection! 😉 Just float and breathe, float and breathe, float and ...well you get the idea. Practice is how you make it natural!

All masks leak! You have to keep your hair pulled back. Guys with facial hair really have it tough. Learn how to empty the mask while you are floating.

Secret Harbour is usually fairly protected. However, there are certain conditions when it could be choppy. That is the day you go to another beach! If the beaches on the south side are choppy, the north side will be smoother.

I am pretty sure that blenders are standard. Sweet dreams for nine months!

Posted : July 10, 2006 11:52 am
Posts: 1

Thanks for all the snorkeling adivce. I am going to get a floatation belt. I used to be a strong swimmer years ago, but age and weight is a factor now!

We do plan on going to STJ for the day, once or twice. I saw where someone posted that we may not be able to take a rental car over there, tho. I just mainly want to see the famous Trunk Bay. Our main objective for the whole week is just to relax, drink, shop a little, drink, swim, drink, you get the picture!heehee. Its funny, neither of our husbands drink, but my girlfriend and a make up for it. (I always have a DD that way.)

I'm so glad we decided to do this rather than another cruise. Cruising was OK, but seems like there's so much running, gotta be here for this at that time etc. But this trip will just be for R&R.

I saw on another thread where someone was thinking $500 alot to fly from California. We are paying that to fly from Columbus OH (thru Newark, with 1 hr layover). Just thought I'd mention that.

Posted : July 10, 2006 1:41 pm
Posts: 163
Estimable Member

You can take a rental car from STT to STJ but its a real pain in the neck from what people say. If your only objective is to go to Trunk Bay (and by all means find out when the cruise ships WON'T be there) then just take a shuttle over once the ferry gets you to Cruz Bay and arrange for them to pick you up later in the day. It is a frequently crowded place depending on when you go because its equivalent to "I want to see the Statue of Liberty when I go to NYC".
We just bought our tickets on AA to STT from Boston for late November and paid $500 each with all the taxes included. Almost every flight I ever heard of has a layover somewhere.

Posted : July 10, 2006 2:15 pm
Posts: 233
Reputable Member

We went to STT for the first time this April. I shared your concern regarding snorkeling because of our bad honeymoon experience with my mask leaking in Jamaica. For Christmas presents to each other my husband and I went to a local dive shop and got a professional to fit us for our own masks. We actually bought a package that included a really neat snorkel that had a valve on the top and no water ever got in my snorkel. We also got the bright yellow blow up swim vests for safety and our fins. We bought a duffel bag for it all to go into and the dive shop through in free mask defogger. (Which I recommend rather than your spit, but use a towel or a finger that does not have sunscreen on it to apply)
Our first day we booked a day sail with Captain Pat of Ike Witt out of American Yacht Harbor on STT. He took us to a calm beach off STJ and gave a us a snorkel lesson for about 10 minutes. He made sure we were both comfortable and then introduced us to his "fish friends" and "his coral". We were hooked on snorkeling after that and went at least two times a day for the entire week. The water is so clear and the sea life is amazing.

Captain Pat/Ike Witt advertises on this web site. I provided a link below for his web site.

We didn't snorkel at Secret Harbour but many people have posted that it is one of the best beaches on STT for snorkeling and they usually see a sea turtle. We did eat at the open air restaurant Blue Moon Cafe and enjoyed a romantic evening there. Secret Harbour is in a really nice location close to Red Hook and the ferry to STJ.

My best advise would be to rent a car while you are there. Between four of you the taxi fares would really add up. We booked Hertz online which gave us the best rate. Hertz is located right at the airport next to baggage claim. If you think you may want to take the car ferry over to STJ than you would have to use a different company as Hertz does not allow their cars to go off the island.

Have a wonderful trip.

Posted : July 10, 2006 10:29 pm
Posts: 194
Estimable Member

When we go to Maui I rent from this place called Snorkel Bob's. He has this great snorkel that won't let water in. I have never had a mask that leaks. Check out his web site. You can purchase his equipment too. I am sure you could find something similar to his. I won't snorkel without out his equipment.

Posted : July 10, 2006 10:37 pm
Posts: 1

Thanks so much for your advice/comments. We do plan to rent a car. I also want to do a daysail to St. John, if not take a ferry over. Is the best snorkeling on St. john only by boat, or are there good places on the beaches to snorkel? I'm going to be nuts by the time next April rolls around if I spend all my time thinking (dreaming) about this trip. It's a long time to plan just 7 days.

I am suffering (ha!) from empty nest syndrome and not alot else to keep me occupied right now. When my husband I married 17 years ago, we had four kids between us from previous marriages, and the last one has just left home. Time to break out the Magic Bullet and a start mixing drinks! I don't have to be a role model any longer. Anyway, this is the first big trip without kids, so that's another reason I can't keep thinking about it! I spent alot of time on the internet trying to decide where to go, then where to stay, etc and its scary to finalize plans about a place we know nothing about. Not like there's a Hampton Inn right on the beach in St thomas, where you know exactly what you'd be getting. And besides that, we didn't really want a hotel. I think Secret Harbour is just what we want. We looked at getting a villa, but wanted to be able to walk right out onto the beach.

I can't wait to get one of those bushwackers!

Posted : July 10, 2006 10:54 pm
Posts: 163
Estimable Member

Lora, don't apologize! Being an empty nester has its advantages and like you, I spend a TON of time planning my trips, much to my husband's amusement! The snorkling off STJ IS from the beaches for the most part, you just wade in very carefully, watching out for the coral. Others will tell you about places to go via boat but you'll have no problem snorkling from shore on STJ. Just search this board for everyone's opinions on the best snorkling beaches.

Posted : July 11, 2006 3:48 pm
Posts: 70
Trusted Member

I totally think you should buy your snorkel equipment rather than rent it. Yes, it will be a waste if you decide snorkeling is not for you, but in my experience the difference between rental equipment and my own was like night and day. That rental equipment gets thrashed (and who knows how well they clean it?). Plus, if you buy snorkel equipment you can practice, as someone suggested, in a pool before you go, to make yourself much more comfortable with breathing with you face underwater. The more you do it, the more you become comfortable with it. When I first started snorkeling, I had to practice a lot, and I would always hyperventilate at first. Now I just slap on the mask and go.

Not all masks leak! If you get one that fits right and if you keep your hair out of the way, don't wear sunscreen around where the mask goes, you shouldn't have a problem with this at all.

If you have a copy of "Feet, Fins and Four-Wheel Drive" it has a nice little chapter on snorkeling for beginners, and some excellent tips on becoming comfortable with it. You can buy a copy on this website somewhere if you don't have it (hard to find anywhere else).

Posted : July 12, 2006 6:44 pm
Posts: 1

Thanks for replying. I am thinking seriously about buying my own snorkel equipment, even if I never use it again. But I tell ya, this is my first trip to ST and I'm already sure I'll want to go back! After 17 years of sitting in bleachers or on a ball field year round, we are more than ready to start doing some traveling. Getting tired of doing Myrtle Beach.

Just want to say how much I enjoy everyone's trip reports! it makes one feel like they are having a vacation thru someone else's experiences.

Friends have already told me I have to bring back lots of rum. I don't think I can carry it all! Can you have a case shipped (fairly cheap) to the states from ST?

Posted : July 12, 2006 9:08 pm
Posts: 82
Estimable Member

You can bring back 6 bottles per person as long as one of them is a local brand. There are boxes to package them in available at every store. We paid .99 for a box at Cost U Less but they were free at Al Cohen's by Havensight. Al Cohen had the best price on Stoli that I found but Cost U Less was less expensive on everything else (Rum, Baileys, J.D.). We normally carry the boxes as one of our carry-ons. (I make hubby carry both boxes)and I carry two other things. The boxes do have a carrying handle which makes it simple to carry. As for your question on shipping, I don't know anything about shipping. . .

C Urchin

Posted : July 15, 2006 8:23 am
Posts: 2026
Noble Member

On my last visit I decided to take my chances and I checked my liquor box with my luggage....and all was well on the other end when we arrived at PHL. I wouldn't have tried this if I had to change planes.

Posted : July 15, 2006 8:31 am
Posts: 1

Thanks for the info. If one can only bring back 6 bottles, then I suppose we'll cart them home ourselves. I think I saw on another thread that Cruzan rum can be purchased for as cheap as $2.50/bottle??? If so, that's awesome! Couldn't remember if they said K-mart or Cost-U-less, tho.

Gosh I'm getting psyched!!

Posted : July 15, 2006 9:51 pm
Posts: 2026
Noble Member


This website provides a price list of liquor on STT. It was updated in Feb of 06. You can access this list and other shopping price lists (food, etc) by clicking the link for VI Moving Center (top right) and then clicking on the link for Cost of Living. I don't know where this list came from (maybe the link will tell you - I didn't look for that info). Some of the prices on here look high to me, so maybe this was not the KMart or Cost-U-Less price. I think I recall getting Cruzan for around $3.99 per bottle. I have not seen $2.50.

Here is the list for your convenience:

St. Thomas

Skyy Vodka 1 ltr. 7.39
Hynotiq Liqueur 750ml 16.89
Couvoisier 1 ltr. 18.99
Cruzan Rum Cream 1 ltr. 12.99
Cruzan White 1.75 ltr. 6.28
Cruzan Gold 1.75 ltr. 6.28
Captain Morgan 1 ltr. 8.99
Bacardi Limon 1 ltr. 9.99
Grey Goose 1 ltr. 27.99
Myers Rum 1 ltr. 9.99
Cutty Sark 1.75 ltr. 25.99
Hennessey Cognac 700ml 28.69
Remy Martin 700 ml 25.99
Dewar's White Label 1 ltr. 11.99
E&J Gallo Brandy 750 ml 5.99
Beefeater Dry Gin 1 ltr. 9.99
Sauza Tequila 1 ltr. 11.99
Jim Beam 1 ltr. 7.99
Jameson Irish Whiskey 1ltr. 12.99
Jack Daniels Tenn. Whiskey Black 1 ltr. 15.99
Chivas Regal Scotch Whiskey 1.75 ltr. 29.99
Gilbeys Gin 1.75 ltr. 5.99
Chambord 750ml 14.49
Baileys Irish Cream 1 lrt. 15.98
Sambuca Romano 1 ltr. 12.99
Jegermeister 750 ml 15.99
Frangelico 750 ml 12.49
Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge 1 ltr. 20.98
Disaronno Amaretto 1 ltr. 14.99
Deauville Triple Sec 1ltr. 4.49
Veuve Clicquot Brut 750 ml 35.99
Moet & Chardon 750 ml 33.69
Kahlua 1ltr 13.49
Cointreau Liquer 1 ltr. 22.99
Midori 750 ml 14.79
Talea Amaretto Liqueur 700 ml 14.49
B&B Liqueur 750 ml 16.79
Gautier VS Cognac 1000ml 11.99
Crown Royal Whiskey 1 ltr. 16.99
J&B Rare Scotch Whiskey 1 ltr. 11.99
Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whiskey 1 ltr. 23.99
Alize Cognac w/ Passion Fruit Juice 700 ml. 13.59

St. Croix
Hynotiq Liqueur 750 ml. 17.99
Couvoirsier Cognac 1ltr. 18.99
Johnnie Walker Black Label 1 ltr. 28.49
Jim Beach Bourbon Whiskey 1.75 ltr. 14.59
Grand Marnier 1 ltr. 25.99
Frangelico Liqueur 1 ltr. 19.99
Chambord Liqueur 750 ml. 16.99
Cointreau 750 ml. 16.99
Grey Goose Vodka 1.75 ltr. 46.99
Cutty Sark Scotch Whiskey 1.75 ltr. 21.99
Chivas Regal 12 Year Gift Box 1.75 ltr 44.99

Posted : July 16, 2006 7:40 am
Posts: 1

THanks Bluwater!
Those are still great prices, but $3.99 is greater. My favorite rum is Capt Morgans Spiced, but I'll become a Cruzan fan - no problem. $12.99 is good price for the cream, too. Sometime before next April, I need to get the locations of K-mart and Cost U Less.

Posted : July 16, 2006 7:47 am
Posts: 2026
Noble Member

Ah, another creme fan. I brought that home on my last trip, as well as Bailey's Irish Creme, Kahlua and Mt Gay (for my rum punch).

Where will you be staying? KMart and Cost-U-Less are easy to find once you get into the correct road.

Posted : July 16, 2006 11:54 am
Posts: 1

Bluwater -
Yeah I'm a big creme fan. Its the only way I'll drink coffee - with some bailey's in it.

we'll be staying at Secret Harbour, 4/19 - 26, so I guess places on the east end will be more convenient? But, we'll be renting a car, so whevever it is - we'll find it.

Posted : July 16, 2006 4:46 pm
Posts: 2023
Noble Member

Lora: Has anyone mentioned Carnival to you? 😉

Posted : July 17, 2006 7:18 am
Posts: 1

EE - no, no one has mentioned it specifically to me, altho I have seen it mentioned. Will it be going on while we are there? what is it exactly?

Posted : July 17, 2006 9:18 am
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